Everyone has a moment in their life when reality hits. If you live a privileged life, that moment tends to hit just a little bit harder. It may be uncomfortable or even embarrassing when it happens, but times like this can also be great, life-changing learning experiences that change your life for the better. At the very least, they lead to some pretty funny and eye-opening stories. These Redditors came together to share the moments that reality hit them as privileged people or moments they witnessed that really seemed to smack reality into someone.
Administration and faculty at a university refused a substantial offer of endowment money from a couple who wanted their son enrolled as an art major. Their son couldn't meet the minimum scholastic entrance requirements and he had little aptitude for art. Still, with their millions, he thought money would buy his way to an "easy degree" as an art major.
Well, he had another thing coming. He was dumbfounded when he received a notice of non-admittance.
Nothing too serious, but I taught at an international school in Africa and we would take the high school students camping one week out of the year. Many of these kids are not used to camping at all and have never even taken public transport; they have full-time drivers bring them to school and pick them up. Some of them are from very wealthy and politically connected families.
Having to set up tents and get dirty, not be able to shower every day, and sleep on hard ground is new to them. Some of them actually love it, but others are sad pathetic wretches the entire week.
This kid on my block whose parents were the CEO and CIO of a semi-major delivery service, kind of like U-Haul, never found out that being rich wouldn’t make him popular. He literally told me that he wanted to be known as "The Richest Kid in School". I swear he thought life was a TV show or something.
This wasn't me but my wife. She grew up well to do. I grew up in a trailer—like, I can't watch Trailer Park Boys because it's too real. We met in college which took everything in my power to get to. She, on the other hand, had it all paid for. We met, fell in love, etc. The first break, I took her home to my parents—who lived in a dirty, dingy, broken trailer.
She met everyone and was nice enough. That night, we went to bed and I woke up to her just sobbing. She had never realized how great she really had it and how broken and rough the world can be. I was just feeling thankful to be home with my family, on my nice bed—which in hindsight was the sketchiest thing ever, a bed with no sheets, full of booze stains and all that crud.
Had I known what I know now about how the other (less than) half lives, I would have NEVER taken her home until I knew her better. I was surprised she stayed with me. I just grew up thinking that the way I lived was perfectly normal until I met her parents.
One of my college roommates was very rich growing up. I didn't realize just how rich until I had to explain to her what a coupon was in very extensive detail. On multiple occasions, she bragged that she wasn't even interested in her major (philosophy), or college in general, but she was at university because her parents were requiring her to get a degree, any degree, in order to get access to her trust fund.
I don't remember ever seeing her go to class and she eventually got expelled sophomore year over academic dishonesty. I guess this was the last straw for her parents because they cut her off pretty soon after that. This actually served as a wakeup call. She somehow managed to get a public health degree at a different school in spite of the academic dishonesty listed on her transcript.
She's doing pretty well for herself these days. We've kept in touch and last we talked she was considering grad school.
Reality set in the first time I went a week living on beans and ramen because that's what was in the house and I didn't have any money. I learned that in the real world, everything is not just handed to you. I'm still a bit spoiled and I still have issues with prioritizing expenditures, but I'm much better than I was when I was 21.
Local business owner puts son through college and more. When kid graduates with multiple degrees, dad decides to retire and turn over business to son. Son brings college cronies on board, has management all wear white cowboy hats and drive white pickups, begins revamping the business. Dad comes out of retirement pronto, gets rid of son and cronies.
Years later, he bankrolls son's run for state rep. The son lost. Dad dies, and who does the business go to? His daughter. Fool me once, etc.
She was at a Starbucks, she thought apparently people gave her parents free drinks and such for her all these years. Like the cashier told her the total and she said, "Wait, I don't get it for free?" She never realized her parents swiping their cards all those years was paying for her things, I guess.
Seamester: The semester at sea! It costs $25,000+ to spend a semester learning about the oceans on a boat that sails port to port. They also tell you no illicit substances or booze. One of my students didn't listen and brought aboard special brownies. The staff found out 10 days in. They dropped her off at the first port. No credits, no refund.
$25,000 down the drain, all for special brownies.
I never realized that some people really struggle with money. I thought people didn't buy the things they need (cars, appliances, clothes, a nice house) because they were really frugal and saving up. It's not even that I didn't know about poverty, but I thought it was a third-world thing and that everyone in the US is pretty comfortable.
This didn't sink in until college. I'm terrified for after-college.
I had a roommate in my freshman year of college that came from an incredibly rich oil family from the Middle East. I remember him having the hardest time adjusting to not having someone else prepare him food. I remember waking up one morning and going to the kitchen and seeing him try to eat eggs and toast he had just prepared himself.
He asked me how I normally prepare fried eggs because his tasted really crunchy. Turns out he had just cracked the egg whole into the pan and prepared it shell and all. I couldn’t stop laughing but felt really bad for the dude.
I used to work at Starbucks and there was a girl that was just newly hired and in training. Mind you, she was 20 years old and her parents made her get a job. She grew up in a very wealthy family. On her first or second day, I had instructed her to do the dishes to help catch us up for closing. She looked at me with these lost eyes and told me she doesn’t know how.
Apparently, she grew up with housemaids and literally has never cleaned a dish in her entire life. I had to teach her step by step how to clean a dish.
A kid from my high school came from a well-known family that was very involved in politics. He slacked off in school and was mostly a condescending jerk for years. After graduation, he didn't really do anything but eventually decided to run for office as he had the same name as his father. He won easily because people didn't realize it was the kid.
As a state rep, he posted on Facebook about "Enjoying his women battered rather than plain," and asking to join the black caucus because he liked hip hop. That’s not even the worst part. He also dropped a loaded pistol on the floor in the middle of a session after fighting for the right to carry it in the statehouse as a "responsible gun owner".
Somehow, he kept getting elected despite these issues, because his family was well-connected, and he had a dedicated following from some political groups. After six years in office, he gets busted for soliciting from a minor over the internet. When they detain him for that, they also discover he's been selling illicit substances.
The worst part is that his family is actually super nice and genuinely made the community a better place, but now they have to deal with all the issues from him. He was an apple that fell very far from the tree.
I was raised by my great grandmother. She was well to do, active well into her 80s, and her world revolved around me. Ballet, gymnastics, all the music classes I could fit in my schedule. I had a menagerie of pets. Christmases were obscene. She catered to my every whim as a child. Now that I'm an adult and my wonderful Gram has passed, I've learned that what I had was really unique.
The world does not wait for me, I'm not special to everyone. I struggle with entitlement and narcissistic tendencies. It's isolating at times, and on top of it all, I miss her.
I saw Justin Bieber throw a fit and end up not getting what he wanted. We have quarterly teambuilding exercises at my company where you basically go and play mini-golf, or some other activity capped at $25/person. Sometime between 2009 and 2011, I really can't remember exactly, my group just decided to go for a fancy lunch in downtown Portland.
After lunch, we took one of our coworkers to the semi-famous Nike store which was a couple of blocks away. That was the day Justin Bieber happened to show up. When he and his entourage arrived he said something somewhat loudly along the lines of "Y'all are going to have to leave for a bit 'cause I'm here to do some shopping".
Then, some of his people acted like they were going to try and politely force the already-present customers out of the store so Bieber could shop alone but the Nike employees even more politely told him that was not possible. At that point, Bieber lost it. I mean he threw a total tantrum because they wouldn't shut down the store for him.
The tantrum didn't work and he and his folks left in a huff.
I've had an odd experience; I grew up in extreme wealth then went to living very humbly. I'm half-Saudi, so I had maids all my young life. They practically wiped my behind for me. I remember whenever me and my brothers got off the airplane, we were driven to the executive "gold" lounge, immediately. Basically, we were minted.
However, my parents got divorced and my mother decided rightly I should live with her back in the UK. So, I went from maids in a mansion where my bedroom was bigger than most people's entire floor (in the UK at least) to sharing a tiny bedroom with my brothers. I remember my first time washing dishes at school. I did it with cold water and the other students laughed at me.
I went from buying whatever I wanted to buy second-hand school clothes, but it was the best thing to happen to me ever. When I went back and met some of my old "friends," their minds...they were just not normal people. This is when it really hit me because I just saw how different they were. Fully grown men being catered for by maids in their old age. Do they have no shame?
I know that it’s rich coming from me, but hey, I mended my ways. Whenever I visit my father I see my stepbrother who continued being spoiled. He’s a 35-year-old man who has never had a job and leeches off his mum. Our maid is like 60, and she cleans his clothes, washes his dishes, and might as well squeeze his butt cheeks whilst he takes a dump.
I refuse to let the maid do anything and I give where I can from the money I earned. To see such a difference is what made me grateful and hit me. I am so freaking glad I didn't continue growing up spoiled. Frankly, I didn't grow up poor either, and my perspective of poverty was warped compared to real poverty. Our tiny shared bedroom was luxury, and I've learned never to take anything for granted.
I'm so glad I grew up normally, I couldn't stand the person I'd become if I continued growing up spoiled. I work hard now, I support my mother, and I have pride, which is something I'd never have if I continued being a leech.
I wouldn't say I grew up rich, but definitely sheltered. My mom, who has since passed, was an accountant for a small company and my dad worked for the city government as the city building superintendent. He was in charge of planning, long term maintenance contracts, etc. I had a moment in college that put things in perspective.
I was in a group that was handing out candy. We had bought the standard Hershey’s mixed bag of small bars. It was a day that a high school group came through the student center for an activity. We gave them some candy, because why not? It's just Hershey's. They freaked out. "Oh my god, do you know how much this stuff costs! Wow! Thanks!"
These kids came from such poor circumstances that even a mini Hershey's chocolate was a huge deal.
I went to a very rich, predominantly white Catholic high school. One moment I remember was the wind absolutely being taken out of a girl’s sails when I explained to her why our school dominated the area's skiing, golf, and equestrian competitions, but never anything else. For a lot of kids in that school, the moment they learned they were rich was the moment they learned that most girls don't have their own horses growing up.
When I was 16 my parents left for a week vacation and gave me money for the week. Since I didn't know how to do laundry—I’d never even seen it done—I took all my clothes to the dry cleaner. Even my panties. The cleaners asked three times if I was sure I wanted them dry cleaned. I said yes. Two days later I got eight pairs of panties safety pinned to individual hangers.
My "laundry" cost about $90 that week. I just assumed this was all normal. The real world hit me only much later. It's only in retrospect that I see I was spoiled. Sort of around when I had a limited allowance and budget in college. I was spoiled but not rich. Naiver than anything.
I was spoiled rotten until my mid-20s. My parents gave me anything I wanted. When a new gaming generation came out I would get every system and essentially every launch game. In high school, I drove nicer cars than all of my classmates' parents, and I had THREE different cars depending on how I felt. Two of them were brand new sports cars, and the other was an older, but very desirable sports car.
I never paid for gas or car insurance. I never paid a phone bill. Didn't pay for food, movies, snacks—anything. I was given almost limitless amounts of money to spend on whatever I wanted. My parents paid for my college tuition and I later worked in the family business and was paid a very good wage for being simply who I was.
I wasn't a slouch, per se, but I had a false sense of security due to things being handed to me for years. My perspective of life was that you are always on an upward trajectory to earn more, more, more. I swore that by 25 I would own a Lamborghini and a half-million-dollar house, at least. Anything less than that would be an abysmal failure.
While living in this excess, I met a girl who grew up poor. She didn't live in poverty, but she had to work from a very young age and had to help pay the family's bills. Basically, she lived a life that I deathly feared. Her financial situation stabilized by the time we started dating, but her life experience gave her a pretty solid background.
I initially approached our relationship from a position of wanting to give her the finer things in life. I spent thousands of my parents’ money on her to take her on trips and buy her jewelry. She was never comfortable with it and frequently said that she is fine with a cheap dinner and a movie. She and I got married and were expecting a child soon after.
My great awakening came when the family business fell to pieces. Suddenly the endless supply of money stopped. It was so bad that I couldn't even receive a salary and had to look for a job. I had a college degree, but really no discernable skillset. Finding a job wasn't the easiest thing in the world for me to do. I eventually found a very entry-level job in a completely different field. The salary was incredibly low by any measure.
For the first time, I had to pay for gas, insurance, phone, food, etc. The high-performance car I drove took premium fuel and got abysmal gas mileage. I sold it and bought the cheapest car I could find that was safe and new enough to keep my family on the road. I never drove anything so cheap in my life, was never paid so little, and had to pay bills for the first time in my life.
I had to perform at work because I was almost literally living paycheck to paycheck—oh yeah, I racked up tons of credit card debt being irresponsible and knowing I could easily pay it, until I couldn't. My one constant? My wife was unflappable. She had been in far worse situations before. She was pregnant yet calm cool and collected despite the sudden life change.
She didn't stress and essentially pulled up her sleeves and devised a budget for the household to see us through our new reality. It was clear why we were put together. I thought I was the man! Look who ended up taking care of who. This experience taught me that money literally didn't matter. Not only does it not matter, but it can disappear in an instant.
I became closer to my wife, new son, and my faith after this experience. I wouldn't change it for the world.
About 10 years ago I was having a pint with a friend of mine. His family pooped gold, I swear. I mentioned I was struggling with rent and bills while in college and he just said, "Get your mum to pay for it then, mate". She's disabled and we've never had real money. He instantly realized what he said and did feel bad about it.
I think it was the first time he really understood that not everyone has their parents to lean on financially.
My parents went bankrupt. Twice. I went from private school to having the cars and the house repossessed. Yay.
I grew up with rich kids and still keep in touch with a few of them. One guy's father owned the most prestigious law firm in town. He said his life changed the moment he called his father from lockup. His father said, "Well, sorry to hear you got arrested, good luck," then hung up. He said getting locked back into his cell was the singular moment that completely turned his life around.
When I was 30 and wanted a divorce, it didn't happen magically by writing a cheque to a lawyer. That was a reality check.
When I got to college, my roommate washed his plastic silverware for reuse. He'd never held an actual metal fork. Plastic was cheaper. That was a wake-up call.
In my sixth year of school, we had homeroom and in my homeroom, my teacher liked to give kids tiny chores to keep the room clean. Well, I was picked to take the garbage bag out of the can to the bigger ones in the hallway. I shuffled my way up there slowly, and just stood next to it. when she asked what was wrong all I could mumble was, "I don't know how..". This is when I realized I was spoiled; my mom had never given me or my brothers any chore at all. Needless to say, I was thoroughly embarrassed.
There's this kid that lives in a house across the street from mine. It's a pretty large place: the house is made of concrete, high ceilings, pool in the back, etc. Over the years, my brother and I have hung out with him a handful of times, but it's not so fun to hang out with a kid that's barely 11 when you're 14. His mom is fairly wealthy, upper-middle-class. She's an engineer and makes quite a bit of money.
So, he benefited from this by being able to spend the majority of his free time staying inside playing video games when he wasn't at school. He didn't want to pursue a career, he just wanted lounge around all day. Long story short, he crashed the car that his mom gave him. His mom refused to buy him another one, and instead, used that situation to try and motivate him to get off his butt and work.
She sent him off to vocational school since he doesn't want to go to college. We'll see how that goes.
I grew up very privileged. When I look back on it, I never even appreciated it. When I was 17, I came out and went from privileged to getting kicked out and living on the street. That was some years ago now and I've made a pretty amazing life for myself. In fact, I'm almost 100% positive that I'm better off than if I had stayed on my previous track. In every way.
Between junior and senior year of high school, got a job at a local tire shop because I liked cars and manual work—and I needed beer money. I was a straight-A student and actually prided myself on being a hard worker, but didn't really understand the degree to which no one gives a darn what your problem or excuse is, this work needs to get done.
Two moments stick in my memory almost 20 years later: a coworker asks me, "What do they teach you in school? Because you can't work [to save your life]". Dude was working six nearly 11-hour days per week and I was barely doing 40 hours. I screwed something up in the shop—think it was mounting white walls the opposite of the customer's request—and the shop manager was calling me an idiot for it.
I said something like "you know I have a 4.2 GPA, right?" to which he responded, "I don't give a [darn], quit screwing up". In those moments, I came to realize my Golden Boy "gifted" status didn't excuse me from the responsibility of getting the freaking job done right, no matter how simple it should be.
A guy from my robotics group had his entire life handed to him. His dad was stupid rich because he bought shares is an oil field that turned out to have 40 times the expected yield, making his $100,000 investment become around $3 million. He then dumped that into real estate rentals. His son decided it would be fun to go to a school trip in Philly acting rich as heck.
He drove this lifted, modded SUV to a school we were doing a robotics event at in north Philly. Five kids from our school drove themselves down, and guess which car was stolen? His $90,000 monstrosity was missing, and after two months, all that was ever recovered was his stereo and his laptop from a pawn shop. The best part? He didn't have insurance on it yet because he "can just buy the other person’s car if there’s an accident".
His dad flipped out over it and cut his allowance to $200 a month. He also forced him to drive a beater till he saved up his own money.
I was born and raised in L.A. until my high school years. My parents weren't all that rich, but my aunt married a rich man. He was a great uncle at that too, not just because of money. We got A TON of gifts at Christmas every year. I mean clothes, my favorite books. My brother even got a Gameboy and a GBA that I would occasionally take for my entertainment.
We moved to Washington when I was about to start high school, and still had the mindset of, "I will get a ton of stuff at Christmas presents". A lot of things changed that year. I got a wake-up call. During that same year, my Washington cousins’ house burned down. They never had the luxury to begin with, but during that Christmas, I only got two gifts.
Their local firefighters got together and brought them bags of gifts like I had been used to, but with clothes and other necessities. I was jealous. I wanted to cry, but for all the wrong reasons. I realized that day that those Christmas presents were more valuable than what I got before. I learned to appreciate everything that has been given to me since then.
A rich guy in our college dorm thought he was untouchable cause his dad was some NFL player from the 90s and had not blown all his money yet. He would get freshman girls blackout inebriated and then film himself with them before showing all his buddies the next day. Well, one buddy was not as close as he thought. He went to the RA, who then went to campus security and then real authorities.
It was a fun night watching the parking lot fill up with the officers on duty that night and watch them haul his butt out of the dorms while they went and gathered evidence.
I was a spoiled kid, but not really by money. Grew up middle-class, had a TV, NES, bike, and would get a couple of hundred bucks in clothes at the start of each school year, I wasn’t necessarily the rich kid, there were always richer kids in the school, but we were pretty well off. My dad was a self-employed lawyer. Mom was licensed as a nurse but became a stay-at-home-mom when us kids were born.
My dad was always involved in our childhood. Because he was self-employed, he ended up being the dad who was always the soccer coach, the football coach, came to all our games. In high school, I was on the football team and the wrestling team and he was at every match, knew the score of every game. My core group of friends was the wrestling team and we would always come over to my house to hang out.
My dad had set up the family room and the garage as a place for us to hang out whenever we wanted. Years later my dad admitted he’d intentionally set it up that way so he’d know where we were and so we’d stay out of trouble. One friend, whom I will call Andy, had a father who never came to any of the wrestling matches, even on weekends.
I never really understood why parents wouldn’t show up to see their kids playing various sports. I just didn’t get it. In my head, that’s what parents did. When we were about 17, Andy started having some problems. Long story short, he ended up taking his own life. During one of our hangouts at the house, we got to talking about it as 17-year-olds might.
I said how I didn’t understand why he didn’t talk it out with his parents. My friends had to explain it to me very slowly, several times, that Andy’s dad was a jerk and Andy didn’t have the kind of relationship that I had with my parents. My parents were always there for me, and supportive not just with money but with their time and attention.
That was the day I found out that not all parents are like that. Today, some of my friends still drop by my parents’ house for a visit and a chat. It wasn’t until that moment when I was 17 that I realized that not everyone was as lucky to have parents like them. Years later I also found out that my parents supported my friends—not just as parental figures, but also helped them with tuition to college and some darn good legal advice in several situations.
They made everyone’s lives better by being a part of it, and I’m so lucky to have them.
My first roommate had to ask me how to vacuum. Not how to use it, literally how to vacuum the floor. She'd never used one.
I know a guy whose dad was the CEO of a Fortune 500 company for around 10 years. I was playing video games on Discord with him earlier in the year when he dropped this beauty of a line: "My dad isn’t paying for my rent anymore. I can't believe how hard budgeting is when I have to pay for my own rent. I can only go out drinking once a week now. Have you guys always had to watch what you spend this closely?"
He turned 25 this year and has been out of college and working for two years.
Not impressive, and I was not THAT spoiled. Like, I had to work since 16, but I was definitely spoiled more than other kids as an only child and living only with my dad, so we have a strong bond. When I moved out, all the little things my dad did for me that I took for granted was a reality shock when they were not being done.
Simple things like moving my clothes from washer to dryer and starting the dishwasher and buying for trash bags and toilet paper. I've been out for two years and it's fine now, but the first year was a bit crazy. My girlfriend and I fought a lot over our messy apartment because I could not keep up with chores.
I worked at a Tim Hortons a long time ago, and there was a spoiled English girl that was briefly employed. Things weren't too bad until she was instructed to wash dishes. She literally cried and I think she quit soon after. Apparently, her family paid people to do that back home.
I grew up with my mother doing everything for me. I was never taught many things because she would do everything. She's an amazing mother, don't get me wrong, but I wish I was taught more. Well, I have a job now where I take care of mentally disabled adults. You basically have to do everything. You have to do all of the cooking, all of the cleaning, all of the laundry, and you have to shower clients and change their clothes and diapers. Some of them can change themselves.
I'd say that this job is helping me a lot. It's giving me more experience in the real world and a great opportunity to help my patients and spend time with them.
Back when I was in college, there was an exchange student who never did any work and basically slacked off the entire course. At the end of the semester, his rich dad flew in from China to basically pay off the teacher into giving them an A. Straight up trying to financially bribe them to give their inept kid good grades.
The kid was booted from the course and put on an academic warning, but the next semester he dropped out and moved back to China. Guess he figured he didn't need a degree if he already has money.
Grew up in a fancy home, more rooms than you could ever need on a large property in a pretty rural area. I got everything I wanted whenever I wanted; huge plasma TV, DSLR camera, motorbike, pony, etc. I never knew what my parents really did for a living, but I remember kids always asking what my parents did as a job in the playground and I never really knew how to respond.
I figured out what my parents did when my dad was apprehended for trafficking and the house, cars, and everything else were repossessed by the government as they were the profits of unlawful acts. I now live in a cruddy house that barely stands in a dodgy area of town. It definitely was a shock to the system but I'm adjusting just fine, I guess.
Saw a college guy with a ridiculously expensive car, I can't remember the model, rear-end this woman who drove an absolute beater. Her car was definitely totaled and his wasn't looking that hot either. He got out and started screaming at this woman. She was in tears. He kept telling her that she was going to pay for this.
When the authorities came, I saw each of them give their statements. After that, me and like 10 people came forward and gave our witness statements. It sounded like each and every one of us put the complete fault on him, which was the truth. When the officers went back to him, I saw his face just sink. He probably told them it was her fault and just found out that two handfuls of people just confirmed that he's full of it.
I've never seen that many witnesses stick around for a simple traffic accident. I think the other people felt the same way I did: that kid was a jerk and should be punished for what he did.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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